Homemade Brown and Serve Dinner Rolls are a perfect addition to any meal. Serve them at an elegant dinner party, a simple soup and salad meal, or any type of meal in between for rave reviews. Let the bread machine do most of the work in preparing these delicious rolls that are pillowy soft on the inside and golden brown on the outside.
In the initial preparation, the brown and serve rolls are parbaked and then frozen. A quick trip to your freezer and less than ten minutes in the oven are all that’s needed for the convenience of store-bought rolls with the homemade taste of make-ahead dinner rolls.
Using the Tangzhong Technique
The secret to these light and airy rolls is an Asian technique called Tangzhong.
With the Tangzhong technique, you create a starter by cooking a small amount of flour in water until it forms a thick paste. Once the starter has cooled, you add it to the remaining ingredients for the rolls.
The Tangzhong technique physically modifies the starches in the flour. This allows the flour to absorb and retain more liquid.
As a result, the dough is less sticky, and the rolls will stay fresh longer.
For another type of roll using the Tangzhong technique, check out my amazing Milk Bread Rolls.
Here’s How I Made the Tangzhong Starter
You might think that with a name like Tangzhong, the starter is complicated. However, it’s actually quite simple.
- For the Tangzhong starter, I used two simple ingredients – bread flour and water.
- I started by whisking together the flour and water in a microwave-safe bowl until no lumps remained.
- Then, I microwaved the flour and water mixture on high for about 40 seconds, stirring after 20 seconds. Miraculously, the mixture formed into a thick paste that was about the consistency of thick mashed potatoes!
That’s all it took to make the Tangzhong starter paste! I let it cool a bit before adding the starter to the other ingredients.
Ingredients for the Rolls: Here’s What You’ll Need
- Tangzhong Starter: I used the Tangzhong starter or flour paste, as described above.
- The Liquids: For the liquids, I used milk, unsalted butter, and an egg.
- The Dry Ingredients: I included granulated sugar, Kosher salt, and bread flour.
- The Yeast: I always use instant or bread machine yeast when making rolls, and this recipe was no exception.
Here’s How I Made the Dough
Once the Tangzhong starter was made, I turned to my trusty bread machine.
- I added the cooled Tangzhong starter, milk, unsalted butter, and egg to the pan of my bread machine. I gave the mixture a stir to slightly break up the egg.
To be honest, I don’t know whether it’s really necessary to break up the egg. It’s just something that I consistently do to ensure that the egg is completely incorporated into the dough.
- Then, I added the sugar, salt, bread flour, and yeast to the pan of the bread machine.
- I programmed the bread machine to the dough cycle and walked away!
Forming the Dough and Finishing the Brown and Serve Rolls
- Once the dough cycle finished, I transferred the dough to a floured surface. I cut the dough into 18 1.6-ounce pieces and formed each piece into a tight round ball.
I know that I’m a total nerd when it comes to making bread. I weighed the finished dough and divided that total by 18. The result was approximately 1.6 ounces per roll!
- I placed the dough balls onto a parchment-lined half-baking sheet (roughly 18 by 13 inches).
- I covered the rolls and placed them in a warm environment to allow them to roughly double in size. This took about 45 minutes.
- I parbaked the rolls in a preheated 300°F oven for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, they had hardly colored but were perfectly set.
- I allowed the parbaked Brown and Serve Dinner Rolls to cool to room temperature. Then, I placed them on the baking sheet in the freezer.
Once the rolls were frozen, I broke them apart and placed them in a Ziploc bag.
I ended up with 18 parbaked Brown and Serve Dinner Rolls safely stored in my freezer.
When I wanted freshly baked rolls for dinner, all I had to do was to remove the requisite number of rolls from the freezer and brown them.
For the browning, I placed the frozen rolls on a baking sheet and baked them in a preheated 400°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
The Brown and Serve Dinner Rolls were pillowy soft on the inside, golden brown on the outside, and absolutely delicious. Yum!
This recipe is best made with bread flour because of the high protein content needed for proper gluten formation.
You can make this recipe using a stand mixer or a food processor.
You can store the parbaked rolls in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six weeks.
If you end up baking more rolls than are eaten, you can easily reheat them at 350°F for about 5 minutes or until warmed through.
My bread machine is a Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme with a 2-pound capacity. I use it weekly, and the results are always perfect. Before getting the larger machine, I had a Zojirushi 1-pound bread machine.
It doesn’t matter whether you use whole milk, low-fat milk, or skim milk in this recipe.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- I always use bread machine or instant yeast in my bread recipes. The only real difference between the two is the name. Instant yeast needs no rehydration and can therefore be mixed directly into the dry ingredients. Active yeast, on the other hand, must first be dissolved and rehydrated in warm water before being added to the other ingredients.
- The only way that I know to ensure consistent results in my recipes is to weigh the ingredients, especially the flour. The reason is that the weight of flour can vary wildly depending on how it is measured. My rule of thumb is that one cup of flour weighs 5 ounces.
- You don’t need a fancy or expensive scale to weigh your ingredients. In fact, my scale costs less than $10 and is quite accurate.
- My technique for covering the rolls during the rise uses a half-size sheet pan extender covered with an inverted half-sheet pan. I’ve used this technique for years, and it works perfectly. I remove the inverted sheet pan and pan extender before actually baking the rolls.
- I consistently use Julia Child’s method of producing the perfect environment for proofing the rolls. I turn my electric oven on for exactly one minute and 45 seconds and then turn it off.
Other Delicious Recipes for Rolls
One of my favorite things to make is rolls. There’s something magical to me about the interaction of yeast with simple ingredients. Also, my bread machine does an excellent job of producing the dough for the rolls.
Here are some different roll recipes that are tried and true:
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Brown and Serve Dinner Rolls-Bread Machine
- Bread Machine
Flour Paste (Tangzhong) Starter
- 3 Tablespoons (0.9375 ounces) unbleached bread flour
- ½ cup (4 ounces) filtered water
Brown and Serve Dinner Rolls
- Flour paste (tangzhong) starter from above
- ¾ cup plus 1 ½ Tablespoons (6.75 total ounces) of milk
- 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tablespoons (0.875 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt (See Tip 1)
- 3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast
- Flour Paste (Tangzhong)
- Whisk together 3 tablespoons of bread flour and ½ cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for between 40 and 80 seconds, stirring every 20 seconds or until a thick paste forms. (See Tip 2)
Brown and Serve Dinner Rolls
- Line a half baking sheet (roughly 18 by 13 inches) with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Add flour paste, milk, butter, and egg to the pan of a bread machine. Stir to break up the egg lightly. Add the sugar, salt, bread flour, and yeast to the pan of the bread machine. Program on dough cycle. (See Tip 3)
- When the dough cycle finishes, transfer the dough to a floured surface. Divide the dough into 18 pieces (approximately 1.6 ounces each). Form into balls, and place on prepared baking sheet. (See Tip 4)
- Cover and allow to rise until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Uncover the rolls and bake at 300°F for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the rolls register between 170°F and 175°F. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer the baking sheet with the rolls to the freezer, and freeze the rolls until solid, about an hour. Transfer rolls to a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 6 weeks. (See Tip 5)
- To bake the brown and serve rolls, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. (See Tip 6)
- If you’re using regular table salt, reduce the amount to 1 ¼ teaspoons.
- If the dough seems too sticky in the bread machine, add another tablespoon of bread flour.
- The actual time will vary depending on your specific microwave. My microwave is 1600W, and it took 40 seconds.
- I like to make three columns with 6 dough balls each.
- Handle the prebaked rolls carefully. Until they are frozen, the rolls will be very delicate.
- The actual time required to cook the brown and serve rolls will depend on your oven. I use my toaster oven when cooking a handful of brown and serve rolls.